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'Gorgeous Geeks' Offer Tips for Women in IT

Volunteer organisation 'Gorgeous Geeks' maintains that work-life balance is even more crucial for women IT professionals. This was a key message at the annual "Women in Technology" event at Microsoft Tech.Ed SEA 2008 last week in Kuala Lumpur.

The forum, moderated by the government agency Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) vice president Ng Wan Peng, was driven by four prominent women in the technology field -- Microsoft Malaysia managing director Yasmin Mahmood, Woman Entrepreneur Network (WENA) ICT Bureau's Nuraizah Shamsul Baharin, mobile service provider Digi corporate communications head Yohani Yusof, and events firm Crystal Edge Sdn Bhd founder and managing director Suriza Hing Abdullah.

Microsoft's Mahmood said that women -- who form 30 percent of about Malaysia-based 70,000 IT professionals -- need to be "equal to or better than" their male counterparts, while simultaneously seeking the right balance in their personal and professional lives.

Gorgeous Geeks president Alecia Heng said, "An impressive 40 percent of the 3000 attendees of Tech.Ed SEA 2008 were women and the forum was specially engineered for women who are interested in starting a career in IT."

More than 160 participants attended the session, co-hosted by MDeC and Microsoft Malaysia together with Gorgeous Geeks, a group of women volunteers from the IT industry who provide mentorship and inspiration to other women to join the industry.

Maintain a Positive Mindset

Panelists shared personal insights on leadership, entrepreneurship and the avenues of growth that could lead to rewarding and fulfilling careers for women.

On combating challenges to be faced, Nuraizah Shamsul Baharin emphasised the importance of networking groups where members share advice and experiences.

Yohani Yusof, who has been in the IT industry for 21 years, said, "Whether you're an entrepreneur or working for a corporation, there is a need to network."

On a personal level, the panelists advised the potential women leaders on the importance of work-life balance and the challenges of managing expectations in the workplace as an entrepreneur and a leader. Suriza Hing Abdullah said, "Maintaining a positive mindset is key, especially when you face obstacles."

Networking Support from MDeC

Ng highlighted that one of MDeC's initiatives, the MSC Malaysia Capability Development Programme "was specifically designed to suit the needs of the local ICT industry to raise standards of MSC in Malaysia as the ICT hub and we strongly believe that women will benefit from the program."

The MDeC programme aids companies in way of financial assistance, education & awareness to maximize their potential in adopting global best practices and process improvement frameworks.

Mahmood said, "There is a lot of richness that comes from women, and there a lot of initiatives to bring women into the workforce because women definitely help contribute diversity."

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